JournoList and the MSM Template: Minimize, Marginalize, and Drop It Down the Memory Hole

JournoList is back. As Jonathan Strong makes clear in the latest Daily Caller revelations from the Journolist archives, the (publicly) unspoken strategy of the MSM mandarins is to support and protect their liberal/left favorite politicians and policies. Understanding the tactics they use to achieve their goals – tactics I deal with frequently in litigation – is the first step in the counterattack.

media memory hole

The template for responding to breaking news that undermines their political favorites is almost always the same, a three step process designed to undercut the validity of the story, destroy the credibility of the storyteller, and then ensure that no one outside the new conservative media ever hears about it – or at least about the most important elements. And the Daily Caller’s story illustrates them all.

The first step is to minimize the story. So, the arm of the Democrat Party named ACORN feels it’s just fine to give advice to would be child sex traffickers? It’s nothing – it’s just a side show that happened in once…okay, twice…I mean three times…I mean… anyway, it’s not important. How about New Black Panthers intimidating voters? Well, it’s just one precinct in Philadelphia and all the voters there were probably voting for Obama anyway so it’s really not that important. Maybe a government bureaucrat admitting – publicly and proudly – that she treats white farmers in need of assistance worse than black ones? Well, that’s one woman and she’s off in the boonies of Georgia! It’s not important.

You minimize a story to deprive it of the greater meaning that it truly has. By making it one single, remote event, you remove it from any context. In the Journolist scandal, the leftist journalists immediately recognize the danger to their favorite presidential aspirant and apply the tactic to the story of Rev. Wright’s racist ramblings. The noxious Chris Hayes of the Nation puts it into perspective – of a kind:

Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor.

Of course, there’s a small problem – you need to be willing to sell out your purported principles to do it:

Katha Pollitt – Hayes’s colleague at the Nation – didn’t disagree on principle, though she did sound weary of the propaganda. “I hear you. but I am really tired of defending the indefensible. The people who attacked Clinton on Monica were prissy and ridiculous, but let me tell you it was no fun, as a feminist and a woman, waving aside as politically irrelevant and part of the vast rightwing conspiracy Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita,” Pollitt said.

The second step is to marginalize the speaker. That’s the truly fun part for the MSM laptop thugs. Here, you can unload on the person who dares break the story in order to shift the focus from what the story shows to the myriad personal failings – real or just made-up, it doesn’t matter – of the one who tells. In the ACORN scandal, the real story is the wicked James O’Keefe, or antichrist du jour Andrew Breitbart – compared to the ACORN drones who were merely facilitating child prostitutes, these rightwingers were a million times worse.

The loathsome Spencer Ackerman makes no bones about how he wants to shift the spotlight:

What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.

The “racist” label – always a favorite of the Left as a means to tar conservatives, like the NAACP’s recent shenanigans regarding the Tea Party – is the H-Bomb of slanders, and Ackerman is the Curtis LeMay of massive leftwing retaliation.

The third and final step: Drop it down the memory hole. Again, the Journolistas are right up front about their intent, with the Daily Caller chronicling Chris Hayes again sounding off:

Chris Hayes of the Nation posted on April 29, 2008, urging his colleagues to ignore Wright. Hayes directed his message to “particularly those in the ostensible mainstream media” who were members of the list.

The Wright controversy, Hayes argued, was not about Wright at all. Instead, “It has everything to do with the attempts of the right to maintain control of the country.”

** *

Hayes castigated his fellow liberals for criticizing Wright. “All this hand wringing about just how awful and odious Rev. Wright remarks are just keeps the hustle going.”

“Our country disappears people. It tortures people. It has the blood of as many as one million Iraqi civilians — men, women, children, the infirmed — on its hands. You’ll forgive me if I just can’t quite dredge up the requisite amount of outrage over Barack Obama’s pastor,” Hayes wrote.

Hayes urged his colleagues – especially the straight news reporters who were charged with covering the campaign in a neutral way – to bury the Wright scandal. “I’m not saying we should all rush en masse to defend Wright. If you don’t think he’s worthy of defense, don’t defend him! What I’m saying is that there is no earthly reason to use our various platforms to discuss what about Wright we find objectionable,” Hayes said.

And sure enough, CNN became a Rev. Wright-free zone. The goal is to simply ignore the stories, to starve them of oxygen before they can take root outside the conservative new media. ACORN, the John Edwards scandal, Climategate, the New Black Panthers – you looked in vain for any mention of these in the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post until the story simply could not be contained, and then found only short, cryptic and incomplete references buried on page 15 next to the Bulgarian crop reports and the latest Bangladeshi ferry disaster.

The minimize-marginalize-memory hole template only works when no one is looking for it. And it only works when all of the pieces work – when one fails, the template falls apart. You can marginalize the storytellers and drop it down the memory hole, but a story like ACORN’s taxpayer-assisted child sex advice simply cannot be minimized. ACORN ended up defunded. You can lie about “N-word” shouting tea partiers all you want, but when they won’t accept marginalization you can’t be marginalized. And all of us can help drag important stories out of the memory hole – on sites like the “Bigs” and others, through talk radio, through fair and balanced news outlets, and through social media like Facebook and Twitter.

Understanding the template is the first step to smashing it. Refuse to allow important stories to be minimized – fight back. Refuse to acquiesce to being marginalized – fight back. And refuse to allow important stories about our country be tucked away in the media memory hole – fight back.

The Daily Caller has done a great service in dragging the MSM’s grandees and their shameful manipulation out into the disinfecting sunlight. Now do your part – ignore the MSM and pass this critical story on to others, before the MSM gatekeepers get a chance to minimize, marginalize and drop it in the memory hole with all the others.


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